Lansing City Council approves speed camera contract with Altumint Services in split vote

by Julie Berg-Raymond

During its regular meeting Monday, February 5, the Lansing City Council approved entering into a contract with Altumint Services for the installation of four monitoring systems, commonly referred to as “speed cameras,” at two locations (each location will have two systems, one facing each direction on the roadway) in Lansing.

The vote to approve the contract with Altumint Services was split, with council members Steve Murray, Benjamin Ghelf and Lisa Welsh voting to approve; Council members Corey Richards and Mike Manning voted against the motion to approve.

The council had earlier - during its regular meeting Monday, December 4, 2023 - voted 4-1 to approve the installation of one or more speed cameras in the city. Council member Mike Manning was the lone dissenting vote; Richards was not a city council member at that time. Registering during the December 4 meeting his opposition to the installation of speed cameras, Manning said, “I think it’s the right thing for Lansing; but Lansing’s not ready for it.”

In an email following the February 5 regular council meeting, Richards said his “nay” vote on entering into a contract with Altumint Services “was based on the fact that I was informed that the traffic study showed that the areas studied barely met the criteria for the company to even install the cameras.

If you incorporate that with the 100-plus signatures on the petition and my own feelings for speed cameras, I had no choice but vote ‘no’ for speed cameras in Lansing,” he said.

The petition to which Richards referred was presented during a ‘community input session’ on installing speed cameras in Lansing, held Monday, December 4, 2023, immediately prior to the regular council meeting that evening. Lansing Chief of Police Conrad Rosendahl and Officer Troy Riehm held the community input session to both correct misconceptions held by members of the community about the purpose and function of speed cameras in traffic enforcement and to offer those same community members an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions about the cameras’ efficacy and purpose.

In an email following the February 5 council meeting, Manning said he voted against entering into the contract with Altumint Services because he is “uncomfortable with the contract. I like to be sure of what the city is getting into. There is not 100 percent clarity in my eyes to determine that the city will not incur unexpected costs of doing service.”

In addition, Manning expressed concern about legislation being considered in Iowa that could render illegal some of this technology. “Therefore, we are wasting our time moving forward to enact an ordinance that may need to be removed in the near future,” he said. Finally, Manning noted, “I do still hear regularly from citizens that the traffic cameras are not a welcomed addition to our city’s law enforcement practices. As I have stated before, my duty is to represent the citizens’ voices to the best of my ability.”

During the February 5 regular meeting, the legislation to which Manning referred was addressed. Lansing Chief of Police Conrad Rosendahl noted a provision in the contract with Altumint Services that allows the client, upon a 60-day prior written notice, to terminate the contract. “It’s a five-year contract,” Chief Rosendahl said. “But the city can back out of it at any time, with written notice.”

Having approved entering into the contract with Altumint Services, the council will now draft an ordinance involving the use of speed cameras - which will be followed by three public readings, before setting a date to install them.

Addressing the council about tree maintenance on Mt. Hosmer, Bruce Carlson spoke about ongoing efforts on the parts of volunteers to control the spread of invasive species, including the conducting of fire department-assisted controlled burns; keeping tree branches trimmed to make sure flags can be seen, and to maintain “beautiful vistas” - like, for example, the views at Strong Point. Carlson said the efforts need to be community-based. “We need to involve as many people and get as much input as we can,” he said. Council member Murray suggested Carlson contact Main Street Lansing Executive Director Andrew Boddicker and ask him to post something on Facebook.

Murray and Mayor Pro Tem Manning complimented the work done by the volunteers; and Manning wondered if they would consider putting together a 10- or 20-year plan. “It’s a matter of staying ahead of it,” Carlson said. “We do it out of passion.”

In other business, the council approved water/sewer forgiveness at 1608 Main Street for $1,785.39 and approved a liquor license renewal for TJ Hunters. The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Monday, February 19, at 7 p.m., in Lansing City Hall.